Unite, the civil aviation trade union, has warned of industrial unrest if airport workers pay is squeezed.

The union has also predicted travel chaos for customers if  BAA’s seven airports are broken up.

Steve Turner, Unite’s national secretary, criticised the findings of the Commons Transport Select Committee’s report “The Future of BAA” saying  MPs had failed to understand the economics of the industry.  He said competition would not benefit the airport workers whose pay, terms, conditions and pensions were “hardly generous now”.

He said: “Breaking up the seven airports would undermine the investment needed to improve services and kick-start a ‘race to the bottom’ on labour costs.

“We have already seen industry pressures on ground handling staff pay as the low cost operators try to squeeze every last penny out. Smashing the BAA operations would, in our view, just accelerate that process.”

“That would be unacceptable,” he added.

Turner said the airlines seemed to have declared a competitive war on BAA but it would be counter productive.

“Squeezing the hardly generous pay for airport workers would only lead to people leaving and making it harder to recruit,” he said. “Given the necessary time to security clear and train people, it’s a recipe for travel chaos which would benefit no one.”